The Harsh Truth

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

The artist is the antennae of the race.
Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound was said to have had a profound influence on his friend William Carlos Williams who was able to balance the dual careers of doctor and writer of novels, plays, essays and poetry. Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry and was United States Poet Laureate. He was often described as a metaphysical poet. Pound and T. S. Eliot were enamored of European culture and traditions and, of course, were not sensitive to the possibility of the alternative reality of P-A as was Williams.

We cling languidly like dried-out locust shells to the dead bark of P-B,
Shells sucked dry by the aridity of the stinging winds of illusion
Screaming death and decay.

Roy Charles Henry

In what has become one of Williams most quoted poems he expresses the same insight.

It is difficult
to get news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.
          William Carlos Williams

In the global village today when fear rather than compassion is the dominant source of the energy of human expression, sustainable human communities are not possible. That is the harsh truth.

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References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry.

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